Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind. When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is happy. - Proverbs 29:17-18
The cultivated rose, that most fragrant and most beautiful of flowers, has captured the imaginations of poets and songwriters down through the centuries. But roses left to themselves soon run wild. They lose their fragrance, the blooms deteriorate, thorns and brambles take over, and no one writes of their beauty. They need the pruner’s knife to cultivate them and make them beautiful again.
Children “run wild” when they are not exposed to helpful discipline (Prov. 29:18). This creates problems for their parents, for themselves, and for anyone else who crosses their paths. Their parents experience embarrassment and public disgrace by their behavior (29:15). The children themselves, not obeying God’s law or even their parents’, are not happy (29:18). So if parents want to do the right thing for their children, and at the same time save themselves some grief, they should listen to Scripture, which says, “to discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom“ (29:15) and “discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind” (29:17).
Discipline is not designed for the benefit of parents, so that they can work out their frustrations—it is for the good of the children. It is intended to save young people from foolishness and lead them into wisdom. It is meant to show them the right way and encourage them to follow it.
Many children appear to have a nose for folly and an aversion to wisdom. This is because they have a built-in bias toward doing their own thing, being their own person, and satisfying their own desires. Discipline is designed to help them see that, as responsible members of the human race, they cannot live wisely and well if they become absorbed with themselves, focused on getting their own way, and determined to brook no opposition. That kind of living is an affront to God, an embarrassment to parents, and, ultimately, destructive of the young person.
A big question in modern Western culture is “What is the right way to discipline a child?” In Old Testament times, the answer was to use the “rod of correction”—to apply physical punishment to the anatomy of the offending youngster. In recent times, this has been frowned upon as a form of child abuse. Some would respond, “That is why we have created a permissive society.” Both have a point!
More recently, the emphasis in child-rearing has been on explaining to the child what is unacceptable, pointing out the natural consequences, and appealing to the child’s better nature. Perhaps a paraphrase of Proverbs would be a suitable response to this approach: “For a [child], mere words are not enough—discipline is needed. For the words may be understood, but they are not heeded” (29:19).
Parents who are careful to show children what they need to heed will find that they themselves are blessed with what they desperately need—peace of mind! More importantly, the child will have peace of heart and life.
For Further Study: Proverbs 29:11-18
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.